Skopje, 1 June 2005 – Aco Janevski, state secretary in the Ministry of Labour and Social Policy, stated Wednesday [1 June] that the ministry was surprised by the statement of UNHCR official Catherine Walker and the media report regarding the condition of Kosovo refugees in Macedonia, since the country’s Law on Refugees has already been assessed as the best in the region.

“We do not intend to expel Kosovo refugees, but it is normal to exercise pressure regarding their return in the country of their origin, taking into consideration the interest of Macedonian citizens. The problem is that Kosovo is under UN management, and that is why the pressure is directed towards UNHCR,” Janevski said at Wednesday’s press conference.

Janevski reminded that Macedonia had received 64,000 refugees from Bosnia-Hercegovina and 360,000 from Kosovo.

“The initial costs fell on the country’s burden, and were afterwards undertaken by international organizations. Currently, there are 24 individuals from Bosnia-Hercegovina with a refugee status, and 2,216 from Kosovo, who are mostly Roma, Egyptians, Ashkali and Gorani,” he added.

According to the Law on Asylum, individuals with a refugee status or under temporary humanitarian protection have the same rights as Macedonian citizens or foreigners in the country. This means that they have the right for a job, can own real estate, social and health protection, as well as education.

Source: MIA news agency